FreeWheel is “very happy to be heavily investing in Cannes again this year” as it looks to broaden its footprint on the buy side and find more strategic partners to tackle industry issues like attribution and measurement in television. As is the case in the ongoing TV Upfront season, there will be lots of discussion about advanced audience targeting, says Neil Smith, GM, FreeWheel Markets.
“We absolutely are hearing audiences come up in the Upfront. From our perspective, it’s really been ten years or so since there’s been a significant change in the way that linear inventory is sold,” Smith says in this interview with Beet.TV.
His interpretation of the discourse about audience targeting “is that we’re at a point where there’s significant momentum for the next evolution of that. Most publishers are offering an audience component of that this year. When we go out with our linear sales organization and talk to marketers, that’s what they’re looking for us to do as well.”
With its deep technology relationships with premium video publishers, FreeWheel provides incremental reach for advertisers and monetization opportunities that avoid sales channel conflict with publishers’ direct sales teams.
“We really look at ourselves as a monetization service that the most premium linear and digital publishers can tap into to help complement what their sales organizations are doing in the market,” Smith explains.
As a part of the extended Comcast family, FreeWheel is unique in its involvement with both digital and linear video. It works with all manner of advertisers on the buy-side.
“Being part of Comcast, at one end of the spectrum we’ve got the Comcast Spotlight local sales organization plugged into our market. So they’re working with advertisers as small as local pizza shops or local car dealerships to be able to access premium inventory through our market.”
Then there is the FreeWheel national sales team. While it’s typically worked with advertisers seeking more efficient reach, “more and more we’ve been working with the major agencies and major advertisers to take advantage of some of our unique capabilities, including what we can do with audience leveraging some of the Comcast data,” Smith says.
Asked to survey the landscape going forward and what changes he envisions, Smith cites uniform measurement and better calculation of ROI.
“There’s still challenges in getting measurement in a unified way across all screens where someone would watch premium video. There’s still specific screens like OTT, connected TV where there are no industry standard measurement solutions.”
ROI starts with understanding who an advertiser is trying to reach and whether they are the appropriate target. “And then we can continue down funnel and look at how we can connect TV back to attribution” in line with KPI’s.
Since FreeWheel is “relatively new to the buy-side conversation,” at Cannes Smith is looking forward to meeting with “the world’s major marketers and be able to tell our story,” in addition to forming additional partnerships to “help solve some of these major industry challenges, like measurement and attribution in television.”